back to top

Instagram's New "Focus" Feature Is Actually Really Good

It's basically portrait mode but without the fancy new phone.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Here at BuzzFeed, we love you, we care about you, we only want the best for you.

And so we wanted to alert you to a new "Focus" feature in Instagram Stories. It's basically a faux depth effect feature (kind of like Portrait Mode on the iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and X).

Instagram’s focus mode is golden. iPhone 8 Plus’ and X’s are shaking.

What it does is use digital manipulation to identify faces and then blur out the background. That makes a super nice photo that looks like it was taken by a real film camera, or a big fancy digital camera. (Google's Pixel 2 phone and Samsung's Galaxy S9+ can also take photos that look like this.)

It rolled out a few days ago, but you might not have noticed it, or maybe you haven't updated the app on your phone yet. If you don't have it yet, UPDATE YOUR INSTAGRAM APP!

Also, it's only currently available for iPhones 6S and up, and Android phones from 2015 and newer. Instagram is working on adding the feature to more phones. So for now, if you have an older iPhone or a kind of obscure Android, you might be out of luck.

Instagram just saved you a bunch of money that you won't have to spend on upgrading your phone for a better camera :)

I've been comparing portrait mode photos on my $800 iPhone 7+ to Instagram's new "focus mode" (FREE)... it's pretty close tbh


Basically I didn’t need to get the 8 plus because Instagram has focus mode now. Ok

You'll have to play around with it a little to get the focus right. It works best if you're standing in front of a busy background, like on a street or something. That makes the blurry effect in the back really pop.


Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.